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Iraq training mission hits snag


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Iraq training mission hits snag

An agreement to expand a Nato mission for training Iraqi military officers has been delayed after France and Belgium voiced last-minute doubts.

Belgium said financial details had to be clarified while French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Paris was still considering the issue.

Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he hoped a compromise deal to expand the mission could be reached soon.

He has called a meeting of Nato's top decision-making body for Monday.

Mr de Hoop Scheffer told reporters: "As it stands now, not all 26 allies are completely happy. But I'm very optimistic we can reach an agreement very soon on the remaining points."

Nato already has about 40 staff officers in Iraq, who went there last month to assess exactly how the military alliance can help train Iraq's new security forces.

A deal on training is seen as a way of ending almost two years of tension between the US and France over Nato's role in Iraq.

Correspondents say France wants assurances that the Nato training mission will be independent from US-led forces in Iraq.

France previously opposed any "in-country" training within Iraq, but was forced to give way.


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